Going back to work

By Lindsay Niemi

For many of us, these past few months have been a time to work from home. During Minnesota's stay at home orders, our nightly routines have changed, and we've traded evenings out at restaurants or shopping trips with time spent in our homes, working on projects or catching up on our favorite TV shows. This has also meant more time at home with our pets! However, as the current stay at home order is set to expire next week, many of us will be going back to a more "normal" routine, which means an increase in alone time for the pets in our lives that have come to accept our constant companionship as their new normal.

To help your pet cope with a change in their routine, it's important to remember a few key things.

A tired dog is a good dog. That goes for cats, too! Play time is important for all pets, and establishing a routine to set aside time each day to play or exercise your pet will not only help them to release any pent up energy, but will also help them feel secure in a routine. Play with a laser pointer with your cat, take your dog on a walk, teach them new tricks, or provide enrichment toys. Incorporating mental and physical stimulation into their day is a great way to make their time alone more manageable.

Many of our pets have grown accustomed to us being home more, and thus meeting their needs and demands whenever they ask. If you are planning to be out of the home more in the next few weeks, now is a great time to set a schedule with your pet. Consider feeding them at the times that you would normally be home from work or other activities. Set a potty schedule with your dogs that reflects your time away from the home. If your dog is normally crated while you're away, re-introduce them to their safe space and leave the room, or even your home, for short periods of time to allow them to grow accustomed to the space.

While time away from our pets can be bittersweet, coming home to a happy, excited cat or dog can feel so rewarding. Setting them up for success as we all adjust to an ever-changing environment can strengthen your bond even further.

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